The biggest consideration when planning your trip is your finances, especially if you only have a small budget. The last thing you want to happen when you’re away is to run out of money and have to change your ticket to come back home earlier. Knowing how much money you have to spend will not only stop you from overspending but it’ll give you that piece of mind so that you can enjoy your trip without worrying too much about money. That's where a travel budget planner comes in.
It isn't worth scrimping and saving and not doing what you really want to make yourself miserable on your trip. You have to put a price on what you value the most. If you want to experience everything in a country then do that, if you prefer your own space then book a private room instead of sharing a dorm. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far then compromise more on what you want to do.
Only pick three expensive things that you want to do in a city instead of doing them all, and stay in the cheapest accommodations so that you can have your private room, or mix and match it with a dorm room before treating yourself to your own space.
Travel Budget Planner
The best way to monitor your finances when you’re away is to set a daily budget and use that as a guide. There will be days when you spend less or maybe more, but having a daily amount will help keep you on track. Working out a daily budget and how much you can expect to spend each week in a country will help determine how long you can go for, but how much each country costs will really depend on what you like doing. If you prefer dining in restaurants instead of eating directly from street vendors then your costs will be more.
For the guide to daily budgets for each continent, check out the Solo Guides (on the menu bar) for how much you can expect to spend in a day. The daily budget for each continent includes accommodations at the low-end (staying in the cheapest accommodation whether a hostel, guest house or low star hotel), three meals a day, and the cheapest transport costs of getting around (usually by bus).
Obviously, if you want to stay in nicer places and eat out every night, then you need to factor in a higher cost to cover these.
How To Set Your Daily Budget
Creating a budget is a must for your trip, but before you panic that you’re no good with finances, it’s really easy and just takes a bit of know-how. A daily budget is what’s left after you’ve paid for all the initial outlay of your trip. Say you’re flying to your destination and have pre-purchased a rail card to get around and have already paid for your visas, then these expenses don’t need to be included in your daily budget. This is only needed for you to know how much you need to save to go on your trip.
Your daily budget is made up of accommodations, transport from place to place, food, bottled water, any activities you want to do such as paragliding or just taking a half day bike tour along a canal, attractions you want to see such as museums, and money for the evenings (alcohol can really add to your budget).
You also need to include arrival and departure fees for some countries, any additional visas (if you’re extending it or paying on the border), getting to and from airports, tipping costs (especially if you’re heading to America), laundry costs to wash your clothes, and if you’re away for a while you’ll probably need to take into account extra toiletries such as deodorant, shampoo, sun tan lotion, mosquito spray and others to buy when you are there.
A secret here is also to have extra as a back-up even if it’s just a credit card for those unforeseen events such as getting sick and needing to pay a doctor, or having to change your flight to go home quicker. If you have travel insurance you can usually claim this back, but you still need to pay at least the excess on the policy upfront. Don’t forget to take into consideration any bills that you may have at home, so leave enough money in the bank to cover these.
Sticking to your budget
So how can you stick to your daily budget? Find out the exchange rate then put your allocated amount in your purse for that day. By the end of the day if you have any left without dipping into your reserves, then you’ve stuck to your budget – easy!
Always carry reserves on you just in case, though. You can also work it out the other way and divide the amount of money you have by the number of days that you will be away to get your daily budget. If you’re really good at being frugal, you may even spend less!
Numbeo – Cost of living in different countries.
XE Currency Converter – Currency converter (Use the app for Smart phones).
Unless you’re planning to travel to a country with a closed currency where you can’t get the local currency outside, change your money before you go. Look around for good rates as they can fluctuate. Depending on which part of the world you are travelling to, either take some extra American dollars (for anywhere in America – North, Central or South), or Euros with you (in Europe) for emergencies when you’re there.
There’s also the option of pre-paid travel cards where you can choose which currency you want to load onto the card then draw it out when you arrive in that country.
Don’t take too much cash with you. You may need to pay a departure tax for countries so leave enough local currency to pay in case they don’t accept credit cards. Take more than one debit and credit card so you have a back-up if one of your bank cards is stopped. Notify your bank before you travel with your intended countries to prevent them from putting a temporary stop on your card.
If you use ATMs when you’re away, most banks will charge you for the transaction so it may be worth comparing rates before you go. If you’re going to be spending time in smaller towns, then make sure you have enough cash to keep you going until you get to the next city.
ATMs are pretty widespread nowadays but you still need to take into account developing countries. Always take the emergency number of your bank with you so that you can call from abroad. Some banks are so hot on credit card fraud that they have been known to stop your card until they’ve checked with you on recent transactions.
Use the travel budget planner and follow these tips to help you plan your finances and keep you on the road for longer.